Friday, 16 September 2011

Toe Stories

I'm squeamish about injuries to toes. Sharon and I talked about this over a bottle of wine. We discussed various mishaps our toes had suffered over the years. She once had a woman tread on her big toe in stiletto heels which caused her excruciating pain. When I was about  nine years old I a bully, Billy Miller, a big red haired brute of a kid whose name is etched on my psyche for ever, stamped on my big toe . This hurt a lot. I felt something crack but never went to the doctor and whatever injury I'd received healed on its own. I can't remember the pain very well but I do remember the feeling of humiliation that went with it.

I'm writing a book [probably unpublishable due to bad grammar and weirdness] about my childhood in the West of Scotland. This has thrown up some wonderful memories and some bad ones such as the encounter mentioned above.

This is another bad one [sorry, I'll write about the wonderful ones another time] : Ronny Smith, who was sometimes my best friend, told me his father had been in Holland as a prisoner of war and was forced to dredge silt from a canal in the company of some Dutchmen. They used spades and wore no boots on their feet. One Dutchman chopped his spade into his big toe. He crawled onto the dyke. The big toe was hanging by a piece of skin. The Dutchman cut through this with his penknife. Then bled to death.

This story haunted me. I used to think about it when I was on  my own in my bedroom.

I wished I hadn't remembered it. But it helps me understand why I'm squeamish about toes.